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Has anyone else noticed a trend towards mutant, extra-large, raw oysters proliferating in restaurants throughout the city? I like raw oysters as much as anyone, but I can't cozy up to what amounts to slurping down an ice-cold, fist-sized piece of slime. For me, bigger is not better, at least not when it comes to this.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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Has anyone else noticed a trend towards mutant, extra-large, raw oysters proliferating in restaurants throughout the city? I like raw oysters as much as anyone, but I can't cozy up to what amounts to slurping down an ice-cold, fist-sized piece of slime. For me, bigger is not better, at least not when it comes to this.

Cheers,
Rocks.

I concur, on both points.

(BTW, in Dean and Deluca's latest, completely over-the-top, fetishistic-even-for-me catalogue, they now offer mail-order oysters as well as hamburgers, lobster rolls, and all kinds of other overpriced non-essentials for people who either hate to cook or don't know how.)

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i feel this way more about the extra-large mussels, but even those i have not much trouble with.

the raw oysters at buck's last weekend were big, but tender, perky and with a complexity of mellow flavor putting you directly in touch with the sea. (icy mound? rock oysters). no slime.

(i am in prime oyster country right now, but fasting, taking a time out from deliriously walking the hills up and down. i am going to check out the nasturtium patches this afternoon down by the ocean, but would not be surprised to find that it's so dismal.)

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Has anyone else noticed a trend towards mutant, extra-large, raw oysters proliferating in restaurants throughout the city? I like raw oysters as much as anyone, but I can't cozy up to what amounts to slurping down an ice-cold, fist-sized piece of slime. For me, bigger is not better, at least not when it comes to this.

When I was growing up in the south, we ate large Appalachicola oysters. My grandfather called them "thirds", for having a third on the fork, a third in your mouth, and a third down your gullet. When I see some of the smaller ones, I think, "I just paid two dollars for this?" Bring on the big ones. Preferably with a squeeze of lemon or a shot of Tabasco. cool.gif

So, where are these big'uns?

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When I was growing up in the south, we ate large Appalachicola oysters. My grandfather called them "thirds", for having a third on the fork, a third in your mouth, and a third down your gullet. When I see some of the smaller ones, I think, "I just paid two dollars for this?" Bring on the big ones. Preferably with a squeeze of lemon or a shot of Tabasco. cool.gif

So, where are these big'uns?

I find a given oyster variety only has so much flavor regardless of size. When a particular variety gets too large, they are bland and flavorless. THe best oyster eating experience I ever had was at an event at a winery in Sonoma. The owner of Hog Island Oyster Company had tried an experiement in riasing Viriginicus oysters in Tomales. After 4 years, the oysters were the size of my little finger. He had 400 of the critters and he brought them to the event and put them at one of the shucking stations. Theowner of the winery and I stood there and ate about 200 of them over the course of 2 hours. We had the shucker almost to the point of tears. Only fetching him glass after glass of Rose champers saved the day! They were sweet and powerfully flavorful. A commercial disaster but a culinary triumph.

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June may not be the optimal month to consume oysters based on the seasonal warming of water temperatures. Warmer waters allow different regional varieties of oysters to grow bigger. Bigger oysters come from hotter confederate waters, whereas colder northern waters will yield reasonably smaller New England and PEI (all east coast oysters are of the same Crassotrea virginica species) and western Crassotrea gigas Puget Sound varieties like Kumomoto. The briny-side up goose egg-sized filter feeding gastropods consumed are probably mid-atlantic or gulf coast Blue Points which are reputed for their size, though a friend of mine once blushingly sucked down a Malpeque the size of a plantain Musacaea musa at The Oceanaire.

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You're going to get a lot of viewpoints on this board. My choice is Old Ebbitt Grill -- lots of variety, lots of turnover, and (drum roll....) half priced during happy hours! I happen to think that the oyster offerings at all of the other Clyde's restaurants are pretty good too -- Gallery Place and Beauregard/Mark Center are my favorite alternatives to Old Ebbitt Grill, but the turnover and freshness at Old Ebbitt can't be beat.

At PassionFish in Reston the oysters and other raw bar items are displayed in front of the kitchen. You can shop with your eyes (and nose) there.

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Hi. Where is the best place to get raw oysters? Thanks

675 15th St, Atrium, November 19 or November 20, 7 PM. www.ebbittoysterriot.com

On days when there isn't an oyster riot, I like Hank's on 17th & Q. It's the best combination of delicious and close to my house.

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Happy hour at Old Ebbitt for sure. I see they've raised their prices a little since I was there last, but the oysters are still only a dollar apiece when you buy a dozen, Monday-Thursday 3 pm to 6 pm (a skimpy happy hour, to be sure), and also 11 pm to 1 am Sunday-Thursday. High turnover, great selection, best raw bar around.

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I'll echo the Old Ebbitt/Clydes sentiments. I've had many a raw oyster and they serve the best at a good price to boot. If you go to 'fancier' places they often wash them and ruin the brininess. The Cannon's Fish Market in gtown also has very tasty oysters at an affordable price if you are looking for a to-go option.

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How much of a crowd are you fighting during the Old Ebbitt happy hour? The first thing that comes to my mind is that if it's as much of a consensus choice as it seems, no chance is it anything resembling an undiscovered gem.

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How much of a crowd are you fighting during the Old Ebbitt happy hour? The first thing that comes to my mind is that if it's as much of a consensus choice as it seems, no chance is it anything resembling an undiscovered gem.

Actually, because it's only till 6 pm and only Monday through Thursday, there's never that big a crowd, in my experience. Old Ebbitt is huge, of course, so there may actually be something of a crowd without seeming like one, but I've never had to fight for a place at the bar (and there are three bars, after all), and the happy hour deal is available at every seat in the house anyway.

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How much of a crowd are you fighting during the Old Ebbitt happy hour? The first thing that comes to my mind is that if it's as much of a consensus choice as it seems, no chance is it anything resembling an undiscovered gem.

Sea Catch in Georgetown qualifies for undiscovered gem..have not been there in a while but they used to have 8-10 selections, all priced $1 each...and they used to offer free valet parking, which is a huge bonus. Call first, because my info could be dated.

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Actually, because it's only till 6 pm and only Monday through Thursday, there's never that big a crowd, in my experience. Old Ebbitt is huge, of course, so there may actually be something of a crowd without seeming like one, but I've never had to fight for a place at the bar (and there are three bars, after all), and the happy hour deal is available at every seat in the house anyway.

Don't forget the happy hour deal also extends to 11 pm - 1 am M-R and on Sundays now as well. Was just there a few nights ago, having moved back to DC, and enjoyed 2 1/2 dozen mixed oysters with my wife as well as a half dozen crab claws and a Guinness for under $50 with tax & tip. Never had much of an issue getting a spot during happy hour in my experience, but I tend to crave oysters late at night, not mid-day.

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The Black Salt HH does not get nearly enough attention around here. Oysters are a buck a piece and are as good if not better than anywhere else in the city. They also have other dishes including fish and chips and seafood stew which are great. Eating in the restaurant is beyond what my wallet can handle but the food from the HH comes from the same kitchen at affordable prices. Can't ask for more than that.

The HH is every day from 4-7pm.

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Ok gang....

Where in your opinion is the best place to slurp back some really fresh oysters? Preferably in VA and DC.

Hank's and Union Street in Old Town Alexandria have been solid hits on this side of the river but we are looking at branching out.

DelRayDiva,

I went ahead and merged your question into this thread, since much of it is still valid, although things have changed since Rappahannock Oysters has emerged on the scene.

What type of oysters do you like? Large and briny? Small and custardy?

I tend to like oysters from very cold waters, and west-coast oysters more than east-coast oysters; I support Rappahannock, but more in theory than in practice, since Virginia oysters tend to be large and briny. That said, a lot of people love them, and they're doing quite well.

So what do *you* like? That will help us answer you.

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I'm open to trying all types. I'm a born and bred Illinois person so if they weren't fried- we didn't eat them!

It's it been in the last few years that I have really started to enjoy them.

My favorites have tended to be smaller and creamier. I enjoy Prince Edward Island and Gulf Coast.

Really we are looking expand the palate and learn more while we try lots of good recommendations. :)

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For all of Old Ebbitt Grill's many drawbacks, its happy-hour half-price raw bar, assuming it's still in force, is the best game in town. (I haven't been in quite a while.) They have a wide range of oysters, from both the east and west coast, to choose from, and they do a huge volume, so their oysters are generally pristinely fresh. I favor the bar in back, but the happy hour deal is available everywhere in the vast restaurant.

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For all of Old Ebbitt Grill's many drawbacks, its happy-hour half-price raw bar, assuming it's still in force, is the best game in town. (I haven't been in quite a while.) They have a wide range of oysters, from both the east and west coast, to choose from, and they do a huge volume, so their oysters are generally pristinely fresh. I favor the bar in back, but the happy hour deal is available everywhere in the vast restaurant.

I completely agree with TheHersch here: Go to Old Ebbitt Grill's Happy Hours (either one - they're both the same; just pick the one that's more convenient for you), and get as many different types as you can at half-price. Each dozen you get, get perhaps six different types (two of each), and order several dozen between the two of you. This way, during a single visit, you can get an incredible overview and learn quite a bit. Take a photo of each platter when you get it. As you eat each pair of oysters, turn them upside-down and put them face down on the platter in the same place. (Bring a Post-It Pad and a pen, and put a Post-It next to each pair, and include that in your photos so you can look back later, and identify the ones you remember liking.) Make sure to take two photos - one when you first get it, and one at the end which shows the back of each oyster (you'll understand the value of this after you do it). Discuss them while you're eating them, and then go home and talk about the pictures, trying to remember the ones you liked, and some very clear patterns will begin to emerge (size, texture, brine, part of the country), and if you remember each oyster, you'll know more than 90% of every oyster lover within just 2-3 visits. This is a large enough restaurant where if you're even semi-discreet, you won't stand out doing this (and you can always just tell your bartender what you're doing - I'd do this at one of the back bars, way back after having walked around the main bar that you'll see when you walk in - also, make sure to pay close attention as the server names the oysters; otherwise, you'll forget what you're eating). If you can invest just a few off-hour visits doing this (and I urge you to Metro if you can because there's no valet at those hours, and street parking is scarce, having rush-hour restrictions), it will pay off in spades. My personal theory is that the whiter (i.e., "less blotchy) the inside of the shell is, the better the oyster tends to be - "The bigger, the blacker, the blotches - the badder the bivalve" is how I remember this. You may see patterns emerge there, too. This is all very similar in technique than friends learning about wine can use during wine tastings, except you'll be doing it with oysters, not wines. Google each variety and find out where they're from. Etc. Etc. The more knowledge, the better going forward. Just stay away from Barnegat Bay for awhile. :)

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For all of Old Ebbitt Grill's many drawbacks, its happy-hour half-price raw bar, assuming it's still in force, is the best game in town. (I haven't been in quite a while.) They have a wide range of oysters, from both the east and west coast, to choose from, and they do a huge volume, so their oysters are generally pristinely fresh. I favor the bar in back, but the happy hour deal is available everywhere in the vast restaurant.

Absolutely agree, it's the best deal in town. The Orca Platter at Old Ebbitt is usually $126.95, for a 1-lb lobster, 6 Jonah crab claws, 6 clams, 24 oysters, and 12 shrimp....happy hour $63.48. At Gallery Place, it's called the Mermaid Platter now....at Mark Center, they offer the "Straight Wharf Platter" -- 12 oysters, 12 clams and 10 shrimp -- for $76.95, or $38.48 at happy hour. That latter one is the "Silver Line Platter" at Clyde's of Tysons....

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Thanks Y'all, Not just for the dining suggestions but how to savor them. I am the geek that does take notes on any thing new. I am a reformed 'picky' eater.

I have found Clydes on Beauregard has had some very good oysters as of late. Very fresh with a wide selection.

:)

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That's such a good article.

I agree, though it started out on a foul note. The first two sentences: "A decade ago, I wrote a book called A Geography of Oysters that celebrated the romance of oysters, the primal rush of slurping a raw denizen of the sea, and the mysteries of molluscan terroir. The book struck a chord, and American oyster culture has been in overdrive ever since."

Dude, you are not personally responsible for American oyster culture. Get a grip.

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I agree, though it started out on a foul note. The first two sentences: "A decade ago, I wrote a book called A Geography of Oysters that celebrated the romance of oysters, the primal rush of slurping a raw denizen of the sea, and the mysteries of molluscan terroir. The book struck a chord, and American oyster culture has been in overdrive ever since."

Dude, you are not personally responsible for American oyster culture. Get a grip.

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, but do you think Anthony Jenkins is responsible for American cheese culture?

There was *nothing* before him, and it's been non-stop ever since "Cheese Primer" was published.

These are two very different things, so I'm certainly not attacking or doubting you, but are you *sure* this person didn't ignite (or help ignite) some combustible that took off? Disclaimer: I don't even know who the person is, so I'm playing devil's advocate and nothing more.

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The book is 10 years old, and even Old Ebbitt has been doing the Oyster Riot for 20.

Food in general has had a ton more media attention in the last decade than the previous few (celebrity chefs and all that). But I've seen places in the DC area trumpeting the provenance of their oysters for far more than a decade.

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